Human remains have been found in the wheel well of a C-17 Globemaster military cargo plane operated by the U.S. Air Force which was used to evacuate diplomats and civilians from Afghanistan on Monday according to military sources.
It was not immediately clear if it was the same C-17 that was featured in a viral video that apparently depicted human bodies falling from the aircraft as it took off.
At least seven people died at Kabul International Airport as hundreds of civilians stormed the airport perimeter and blocked the taxiways and runways in an attempt to get onto a departing plane.
Several videos showed scores of civilians thronging around a U.S. Air Force C-17 as it taxied along the runway for departure. One of the videos showed several young men sitting atop the wheel well but it is not known whether they jumped off before the aircraft accelerated for takeoff.
A military source told the Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe that the video which appears to show at least two people falling to their deaths as the C-17 took off and reached altitude “absolutely” seemed real and that the Pentagon was taking the issue very seriously.
Other desperate Afghans attempting to flee the country and the Taliban regime may have managed to get into the unheated and unpressurised wheel well. The pilots apparently had trouble closing the landing gear and decided to declare an emergency and divert to an alternative country.
By the time the C-17 had landed, the stowaways had already perished. It was not immediately clear how many Afghans had died in the tragedy.
There is horrific but unverified footage of what appears to be a human body trapped in the landing gear mid-flight.
Another C-17 Globemaster operated by the U.S. Air Force evacuated as many as 640 Afghan refugees and contractors from Kabul to Doha. It was initially reported that the flight carried 800 passengers but that number was later revised down.
All flights were suspended from Kabul airport on Monday after Afghans overrun the facility but military personnel have since secured the airport and the mass evacuation continued on Tuesday.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.